Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I work at a place where they have access to very sensitive data and think a lot about security. I dont want to ask bc they may lie, is there software to monitor data such as email (pop/imap AND webmail such as hotmail or gmail), forum post etc. Basically any POST data. I am worried that if i read or wrote an embarrassing email to (girl)friend or say something that can be considered suspicious; that it would come back to bite me in the behind (either laughed at or have me put under surveillance).

share|improve this question

Yes, there's a number of techniques that could conceivably be used by an employer to monitor computer use. Are you talking about working someplace where there's security clearances?

  • They could have a firewall that logs where all your packets go. Probably not hard for them to see what non-SSL URLs you visit and what SSL IPs you visit.
  • They could have a transparent proxy that logs a lot more than the firewall would. Limited data on HTTPS or other encrypted traffic.
  • They could have a general network tap (IDS-style system) that could be logging all sorts of things.
  • They could have a non-transparent proxy that your system is configured to use, which would probably give them the ability to see encrypted traffic, too.
  • They could have a keylogger set up that monitors everything you type. This could be software or hardware. There's
  • They could have even more sophisticated monitoring of computer use going on. Most likely in the form of something like a keylogger that also tracks other data moving around.

Does your work prohibit personal use of work computers? If so, don't do it; not even a little.

share|improve this answer
+1 for a comprehensive list and for mentioning the employer's policy and that encrypted content is not immune from access, particularly if a third party controls the DNS service, the proxy server and the client's list of root certificates. – mas Sep 13 '09 at 8:22

Without listing the myriad ways of doing this, yes there are applications and techniques for sniffing network traffic including email, instant messaging, web browsing, etc., etc. There isn't any way you're going to discover on your own whether or not your communication and computer activity has been monitored.

My advice would be to keep your communication and computer activity at work related to work. Save the private/personal stuff for your own computer on your own time.

share|improve this answer
Its not that it isnt allowed, its if i am going to embarrass myself or say something stupid to get myself fired (i am new. I dont have any complaints ATM but if i said one in an email i could get fired?) – acidzombie24 Sep 13 '09 at 14:35
It's better to be safe than sorry. I never mix my work and personal life. I never use my work email or phone for personal stuff. You never know who's watching or listening. – joeqwerty Sep 13 '09 at 14:57


Your employer can monitor you in a number of given ways ranging from monitoring the PC itself via software, screenshots, keystroke logger, etc to monitoring the traffic itself as it passes through a firewall appliance such as an IPCop box, pfSense box, Smoothwall box, etc.

In short... the computer isn't yours (therefore not to be trusted) and the internet connection isn't yours (therefore not to be trusted).

The best advice I could give you to be safe would be to tell you to ASSUME that everything you do on your computer is monitored.

Always keep this in the back of your mind and you'll be just fine.

As a side note... I've personally seen screenshots between girlfriends and boyfriends... seen screenshots of personal online banking balances... seen screenshots of people surfing porn at work... seen employees bitching about other employees or their bosses... seen employees planning on quitting, etc, etc.

The sad part is... a lot of stuff is done while the person is in a bad mood and just venting. The REALLY sad part is... they're usually over it an hour or two later... but the captures are (or can be) FOREVER.

Just things to keep in mind.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.